Pastor Matthew Ashimolowo Founder of Kingsway International Christian Centre had an interview with UK's KTF a while back, he explained how and when he gave his life to Christ, he also shared his childhood story, and a lot more...
Pastor Ashimolowo recently celebrated his 40years in the ministry in London.
Not many people know about Matthew Ashimolowo, the person. Where and when were you born, how many siblings do you have, and what was your childhood like?
ASHIMOLOWO: I was born in Kaduna, which is in the northern part of Nigeria. I was born to Muslim parents, and I am the middle child. I have an older brother and a younger sister. As the son of a military officer, my father was constantly transferred on official duties, and this meant our family was always on the move. My father died in the Biafran War, and this led me to be looked after by guardians. It was not an easy childhood, but I believe all of my experiences have shaped my life, and have caused me to challenge all the people I meet or have the opportunity to minister to, to live a life of success, triumphing over adversity. I believe strongly that, through prayer and living a life of purity, and where there is a will to follow and apply the Word of God to your life, you will win against all the odds. I did, and I challenge others to do likewise. I have not looked back since I gave my life to Christ in a drunken state at the age of 22.
What role did religion and faith play in your upbringing, and what inspired you to become a Christian?
ASHIMOLOWO: I gave my life to Christ in a drunken state at the age of 22, so I can’t say I was inspired! I was at home, saw a tract on the floor and read it. The impact of the tract was such that I said the Sinner’s Prayer alone in that room. I thank God for an aunt, who subsequently took me to church, and for my one and only pastor, who noticed and nurtured the grace of God on my life. From the age of 22, I have been sold out to Christ and to the advancement of His Kingdom, and I have enjoyed every minute of it!
When did you get the call to ministry, and how did you go about pursuing that call?
ASHIMOLOWO: Shortly after I gave my life to Christ, I started to attend Christ Apostolic Church. I was introduced to this church by my Aunt. In the early months of being at the church, the Pastor began to nurture the call of God on my life. He began to use me in various ministry capacities, to help develop my ministry. At around the same time of this happening, an evangelist visited the ministry, and advised that I went to Bible School. Since leaving Bible School, I continued to pursue knowledge and development. I believe it has been one of the things that has helped me to personally grow with the ministry God has entrusted to me.
What made you decide to immigrate to England, and what was your view of the spiritual landscape upon arriving here?
ASHIMOLOWO: England was not my choice. I originally wanted to study in Canada. However, that was my plan; God’s was different. In 1984, the Foursquare denomination that I was with, sent me to England as a missionary. Sincerely speaking, I found the land cold and the people cold. Having left a growing congregation of over 2,000 to become a Pastor of 11 adults was initially discouraging. The few young people who eventually joined would often disappear to other ministries once I finished service, and the older ones at first did not seem to be receptive to the Word of God like what I had been used to. After the first year, I told my wife to read all she wanted, because I wanted to leave as soon as she finished! Now, of course, I am glad I broke through the discouragement, the coldness of the climate, and what appeared to be the lack of reception of the people. Once I changed my view, the people started to come to the ministry.
Which churches and Christians provided you with inspiration when you arrived here?
ASHIMOLOWO: Victory Church and the New Testament Church (Mile End).
Looking back on your years serving the church, what are the key lessons you’ve learnt about God, life and leading a high profile ministry?
ASHIMOLOWO: It is important to have a clear vision for people to follow.
It is important to constantly refer to the vision on a regular basis, so people can maintain and run with it.
Training and discipleship – Build and strengthen your leaders and stewards.
Prayer changes everything. Everything KICC owns and has achieved, has been through being on our knees.
Not to be afraid to stand on your own when it is God’s principles you are standing for.
To be bold and courageous in declaring God’s Word, even when it is not socially acceptable.
The media works when used to promote the Kingdom.
Leadership can be isolating and a lonely walk.
Passion and being purpose driven can lead to others misunderstanding your motives and what you stand for.
Pioneers lead the way for others to follow.
God is faithful; whatever He has promised, He always provides.
Lead by example.
Sow your way to victory, and watch God honour your sacrifice.
The power of positive confession.
For the first 18 years, I sacrificed my personal ministry for growing KICC. By the time I started to venture out on personal ministry assignments, KICC was at a level of growth that could stand my absences.
One of the most difficult times in your ministry must have been when the Charity Commission investigated KICC. Looking back, what are your feelings about that period, and how has your church moved forward since then?
ASHIMOLOWO: We have risen to greater heights. The challenges were great, but God saw us through. We had grown so quickly that we had little time to adjust some of our processes. The Charity Commission went through our processes with a fine-toothed comb, and we adopted new governance procedures which reflected our ministry size. We are pleased to say, they required little change to our operational procedures. What has brought solace is the fact they have also began to use some of the processes we had developed as a standard for other churches to follow. We have now moved on from this, and we are now in a new season.
When you’re not preaching or travelling, what kind of things do you like to do?
ASHIMOLOWO: Spending time with my family, and playing golf.